This five minute arm workout will tone your arms and improve your ride
I’ve never had much upper-body strength. And, after years of practicing yoga, I felt pretty crappy about myself for not being able to do chataranga dandasana, the “yoga push-up.” So last summer, I committed to conquering it. For a month, I did 2 or 3 sun salutes (a specific yoga sequence) every day, incorporating a handful of yoga push-ups each time. At first, I had to drop my knees (think: “girlie push-up”) and my arms were wrecked, but at the end of the month I was able to do the real thing… and by the end of the summer my arms actually looked defined and toned!
The truth is, with a little work, you can tone those arm muscles that are so often forgotten in cycling and actually improve as a cyclist.
The arm muscles help hold us up on the bars, taking shock and impact from the road. This paired with the fact the arm muscles are “slow-twitch” muscles, or muscles that are designed to only work at full-intensity for short periods of time (as in, throwing a baseball), can lead to fatigue and soreness after rides, when we’ve put a lot of weight and demand on the arms. Toning the major muscles of the arm will increase your arm strength and total endurance capacity, since the more in-shape your entire body is, the more efficiently your body uses energy, making you capable of faster times and longer rides, with less fatigue.
Practice these three exercises, starting with every other day, and moving to daily. While there is some controversy about working the same muscles groups every day, these low-impact arm exercises may make you sore at first - like me in my summer yoga routine, but by doing such a low number of reps, your body will have plenty of time to repair and grow the muscles worked.
YOGA PUSH-UP (Chataranga Dandasana)
Muscles Used: Biceps, Triceps, Deltoid
On the Saddle Benefit: Strengthens the ride-stabilizing muscles and stretches the wrists
How To: Prepare for a regular push-up, either up on the toes, or with knees down on the ground. Adjust the hands so that fingertips are pointed forward, directly under the shoulders, and the insides of the elbows are facing each other. Lower the body so that the chest comes to the ground, elbows behind the body (not out to the sides of the body like in a “military” push-up) and push back up. Exhale on the way down, inhale on the way up, move with your natural breath. Do as many as you can for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute.
Muscles Used: Biceps, Forearm
On the Saddle Benefit: Improves climbing or aggressive riding positions
How To: Stand comfortably with light weights (or a water jug, resistance bands held under the feet, or other substitute) in either hand, arms down to the sides, palms facing in towards the body. Lift the forearms so they are parallel with the floor, making a 90 degree angle at the elbow, then slowly lower. Inhale on the way up, exhale on the way down. Do as many as you can for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute
OVERHEAD TRICEP EXTENDERS
Muscles Used: Triceps, Deltoid, Forearms
On the Saddle Benefit: Prevents long-ride fatigue
How To: Stand comfortably, use both hands to hold a light weight overhead. Lower the weight (or appropriate substitute) slowly down behind your head, keeping the elbows pointed at the ceiling. Then, slowly raise the weight back above the head, arms fully extended overhead. Exhale on the way down, inhale on the way up, move with your natural breath. Do as many as you can for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute.